Biden campaign meets with faith leaders and community members in Rocky Mount

Rocky Mount, North Carolina on May 23, 2024. Photo: Dylan Rhoney/Cardinal & Pine

By Dylan Rhoney

May 24, 2024

On Thursday afternoon, Biden campaign surrogates, including DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, met with faith leaders and members of the Rocky Mount community to discuss the importance of the upcoming presidential election.

Dr. Kimberly Hardy knows that many communities across North Carolina are struggling.

As the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Second Vice Chair, Dr. Hardy spends a lot of time out and about, talking to voters and hearing about their concerns. Those experiences and the stories she’s heard during them have informed her approach to voter engagement—an approach she highlighted during an event held by President Biden’s reelection campaign at Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount on Thursday.

“We’re here because we know that there are communities that are hurting. The Beal Street community, it starts fabulous on one end and it just gets lower and lower income, I will say, as we get further down,” Dr. Hardy said. “Those are communities that need our help, and our support.”

Building trust with Black voters

In her role as second-vice chair, Hardy is currently on a 30-county tour of Eastern North Carolina, asking Black voters about frustrations they have with the Democratic Party, and why turnout has been lower in recent elections.

“I’m in Nash County all day today, and all day again tomorrow,” she said on Thursday. “If I want to know why Black folks in Nash County are not coming out to vote, then I need to go to Nash County and ask them directly.”

Thursday’s event was part of a larger effort from the Biden campaign to reach out to voters in Eastern North Carolina and highlight his record of “fighting for rural voters and Black North Carolinians and the threat Donald Trump poses to local communities if elected.”

“What I’ve discovered is that there are some folks who don’t believe that their vindication, and their social justice comes from the ballot, but I’m telling them every day that it does. It happened before, and it can happen again,” Dr. Hardy said.

Dr. Hardy appeared alongside former state representative, James Gailliard, now the church’s senior pastor; Chair of Democratic National Committee Jaime Harrison; former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; other members of the state Democratic party and elected officials; and faith leaders and community members.

Gailliard opened the event with prayer and a short message highlighting the importance of this year’s election.

“The reason we have to elect Democrats up and down the ballot is because their policies—our policies—are the best to make sure that as many people as possible can go very far,” he told the crowd.

The Biden administration’s support for North Carolina

During his time at the podium, Landrieu highlighted the achievements of the Biden administration, and the support it has given North Carolina.

“Joe Biden passed the American Rescue Plan, that money came right down to the ground, went to cities, went to counties, kept people employed… then he passed the infrastructure bill—$9 billion dollars, y’all have 517 projects going on,” Landrieu said. “Clean Water is a nice thing to have that some people take for granted, but in a lot of communities in the South, you don’t have it. You’ve got little girls and boys drinking water out of lead pipes, poisoning their brains all over America, and Joe Biden put money on the table for that,” he explained.

Under Biden, North Carolina has received $250 million to remove lead pipes, including an additional $76 million announced during Biden’s visit to Wilmington earlier this month.

Harrison, meanwhile, spoke to the Biden-Harris administration’s specific investments to support Black communities.

“They made promises to invest in Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). They have invested, since he has been president, over $16 billion dollars in HBCUs across this country,” Harrison said.

North Carolina has 12 HBCUs, the second most in the country. The American Rescue Plan invested $2.7 billion in HBCUs, and $307 million of that went to North Carolina schools.

Harrison also highlighted Biden’s effort to lower the cost of insulin for seniors.

Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act lowered out-of-pocket insulin costs for Medicare recipients to $35 per month under both traditional Medicare and Medicare Part D, while the American Rescue Plan included a measure that reformed the rules guiding the Medicaid health insurance program to remove a cap on the penalty drug companies pay for raising list prices above the rate of inflation. That change prompted Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk—which make up roughly 90% of the market—to all announce price caps and savings programs to lower the cost of some of their most widely-used insulin products to only $35 per month.

“The cost of insulin is crippling. People pay hundreds of dollars a month. This president came in and said we’ve got to do something about that, we’ve got to bring down those costs. Pharma and all the big pharmaceutical companies fought him with everything they had, and guess what? Now the cost for our seniors is $35 a month for insulin,” Harrison told the audience.

Despite Biden’s policy achievements, this year’s presidential election between he and Trump remains a toss-up, with North Carolina serving as one of the key swing states that will determine the winner. Highlighting the stakes of the election, Harrison expressed his concern that the freedoms won in the past were at risk.

“It is a very slippery slope to allow freedoms to be eroded. Because once one freedom goes away, it becomes easier to get rid of another. Our communities and our people have worked to get the freedoms that we now have,” he said. “And I can tell you this, with every breath in my body, I will not allow my sons, who are nine and five, one named after my grandfather, to live in a world like his great grandparents lived.”

Rocky Mount and Eastern NC will play key role in the 2024 election

Communities like Rocky Mount will play a key role in protecting those freedoms, according to state Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton.

“Northeastern North Carolina is going to be so important this year. If we can crack this area of the state, we’re going to be able to win North Carolina for the White House,” she said in an interview following the event.

As part of their focus on the Rocky Mount community, the state Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign also opened a campaign office there on Thursday.

“We’re headed right now to open up the office here in Rocky Mount, and we’re expanding out East even more so as the party this year,” Clayton said.

In addition to the office opening in Rocky Mount, the coordinated campaign opened an office in Smithfield on Friday, bringing the total number of field offices in the state to 13.

Opening campaign offices in communities often plays a key role in campaigns’ abilities to organize and reach out to voters, but also to hear from voters on the ground and figure out how they’re feeling and what really matters to them.


  • Dylan Rhoney

    Dylan Rhoney is an App State grad from Morganton who is passionate about travel, politics, history, and all things North Carolina. He lives in Raleigh.



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